This may come as a shock to non-New Yorkers, but contrary to popular belief, there happens to be an entire state to behold outside the boundaries of the Big Apple. I should know, because "the rest of New York" is where I'm from. The vast majority of "Upstate", as it's called, is lush with some of the most breathtaking mountainous landscapes, glistening lakes, and rolling countryside around, as well as a few really cool towns ripe for exploring, which brings me to Lake Placid.
If it sounds familiar, it may be because this bustling village, tucked away in the northern Adirondack Mountains, was the two-time host of the Winter Olympics (1932 and 1980). In terms of pop culture, it was the setting for what became known as the "Miracle on Ice", when the men's 1980 American hockey team, made up of amateurs and collegiate players, beat the Soviet Union's 6-time gold medal-winning national team. Anyone remember that Disney movie with Kurt Russel? Anyway...
Whiteface Mountain || Photo via whiteface.com
In it's post-Olympic glory, Lake Placid has done anything but falter. Set among several stunning lakes, at the base of Whiteface Mountain, it remains a vibrant escape, where adventure-seekers and nature-lovers flock during all seasons. Yet, it truly comes alive during the winter months when skiers and snowboarders flood the town in search of fresh powder. I hadn't been back since I was a kid until I was recently invited by the Whiteface Lodge to visit the destination through the lens of the adventurous honeymooners.
How to Get There
There are several airports within driving distance from Lake Placid. The closest being Lake Placid airport, but you can also fly into several major cities (New York, Boston, Burlington, Montreal, Albany) and make the trek part of your trip. If you fly into Boston, Albany, or NYC, we'd recommend stopping overnight in the picturesque Victorian city of Saratoga Springs, New York, famous for it's history of horse racing and mineral springs. Once in Lake Placid, we found the easiest way to get around is by car, although Whiteface Lodge does offer transportation services. If you're solely headed for the slopes, Whiteface Mountain provides a free shuttle service to and from the ski area.
Where to Stay
Whiteface Lodge lobby || Photo courtesy of Whiteface Lodge
We stayed at the cozy and luxurious 4-star Whiteface Lodge, which feels more like a mountain mansion than a hotel. We arrived in the early evening, the crisp air smelling of campfire, and were in awe of the property's towering timber and twinkling lights. The inviting lobby issued a warm glow, with it's crackling stone fireplace and authentic Adirondack décor. We stayed in the Deluxe Suite, which is large enough for an extended stay, is equipped with a gas fireplace, full kitchen, and is as charmingly decorated as the rest of the hotel. Each night we headed across the grounds to make ourselves a few complimentary s'mores and then back to the KANU Lounge for cocktails and live music before heading to our room, where we were greeted with fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.
Whiteface Lodge living area || Photo courtesy of Whiteface Lodge
The lodge boasts all the amenities you'd expect from a 4-star hotel. A top-ranked spa (more on that later), fine dining, a fitness center, indoor and outdoor heated pools, hot tubs and an extensive list of entertainment facilities/activities. Feeling competitive? Spend an hour or two in the game room, which houses a private bowling alley. In the warmer months, enjoy the catch-and-release fishing pond, and during the colder ones, the seasonal ice skating rink.
The Spa || Photo courtesy of Whiteface Lodge
For those looking for extra down-time, the lodge's premier spa is a must. Ranked one of the Top 100 Spas in North America by Condé Nast Traveler, the experience lives up to its accolades. The spa, serene and warm, mirrors the rustic beauty of the rest of the resort and the treatments are top notch. After an afternoon outdoors, for a romantic escape, I'd highly recommend the deep tissue couples massage.
What to Do
Once you've mustered up to motivation to make it off the lodge's property there's all sorts of adventure to be had. The most popular choice being skiing or snowboarding at Whiteface Mountain. The highest ski mountain in the Northeast, it boasts over 87 trails, the greatest vertical drop east of the Rocky Mountains, and caters to all abilities, from Olympic to novice. While I didn't get a chance to hit the slopes this trip, I have in the past and it's always a fantastic time. Not feeling the thrill of downhill? Cross country skiing, ice skating and snowshoeing are just a few more of the seemingly never ending options.
Photo courtesy of Whiteface Lodge
If shopping's more your sport, there's plenty of that to be found on Lake Placid's bustling Main Street, which is dotted with boutiques, sporting goods shops, outlets and antique stores. Be sure to make room in your agenda for the Saratoga Olive Oil Company, where you can sample a huge variety of flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars from around the world (they make great gifts!).
Sport history buffs, you'll want to take a tour of the Olympic facilities, including the Olympic Center and the Olympic Sports Complex. Whether you're interested in Olympic skiing or not, the Jumping Complex is something that begs to be seen. As if looking at the sheer height of the K-120 meter ski jumps from the base wasn't heart-pumping enough, you can take a chairlift to the base of the towers and then an elevator to the observation deck where you'll get a breathtaking view of the Adirondack Mountains.
Where to Eat
It might be a small town, but Lake Placid's harboring some seriously good food. Here's a quick highlight of some of our favorite places:
Saranac Sourdough || Photography by Darien Parish
Just across the street from Whiteface Lodge sits this quirky hole-in-the-wall deli who's bagels with smoked salmon and cream cheese are just as good as their blueberry sourdough pancakes. There's a few charming tables to seat yourself at, and, while we only stopped for breakfast, from what I hear, you really can't go wrong with anything on the menu.
The Good Bite Kitchen || Photography by Darien Parish
Located on Main Street, this small vegetarian eatery serves up some of the freshest lunch in town. The menu changes frequently, but their quinoa bowls, packed with flavor and all sorts of seasonal goodies, are where it's at. With only 6 indoor seats that fill up fast, plan to order this meal to-go and head down to the Mirror Lake waterfront.
Liquids & Solids at the Handlebar
Photo via Liquids & Solids Facebook page
Serving up feel-good farm-to-fork eats with a side of flair, Liquids & Solids is warm and inviting in both food and atmosphere. With a craft cocktail list to rival any hip city watering hole (try the Maple & Spice!), charcuterie boards filled with mouth-watering local meats and cheeses, and a crackling wood stove, it's the perfect place to refuel after a long day on the trails.
KANU || Photo courtesy of Whiteface Lodge
For the finest dining experience Lake Placid has to offer, turn to the KANU Dining Room at Whiteface Lodge. The American restaurant boasts an impressive wine list and the innovative menu is built with regional ingredients. The atmosphere, still rustic with it's twin vaulted stone fireplaces and large iron chandeliers, is equal parts fancy and impressive. With the cost of dinner for two being on the higher end, an evening at KANU lends itself well to a special celebration.
Whiteface Lodge lean-to || Photo courtesy of Whiteface Lodge
If honeymooning in a literal winter wonderland sounds like your thing, consider looking toward the right coast. With its picturesque peaks, abundance of activities, and quaint little towns, there's no shortage of romance and adventure to be had in the Adirondacks.